The first thing I did was pull out my Master Meal List out of my "Brain" to see what looks tasty. Tacos, roast chicken with potatoes au gratin and some sort of vegetable, chicken teriyaki, chicken fajitas, chicken stew with dumplings, shipwreck (a dish involving ground meat, potatoes, kidney beans, and tomato soup), chili, Mexican egg rolls, meatball stroganoff on rice, black beans & rice, a chicken broccoli rice casserole (new recipe idea I had the other day), and pseudo-French bread pizzas sound good. I find that about a dozen dinner ideas is usually sufficient for a two week period, since we'll probably end up having at least one leftover night, be invited to someone else's house for at least a meal, or possibly even eat out once.
Next, I checked my fridge to make sure there wasn't anything in there that needed eating up soon that wasn't covered by these meals. The only perishables in there that need used up in a meal soon are tomatoes and lettuce that I picked up last week for tacos (a meal we didn't end up getting around to eating) and some bread dough (in the bucket on the bottom shelf) that I mixed up for the bread with the corn and potato chowder last week, but some of that will be used for the pizza and I'm hoping to try to make bagels one of these days, so that should take care of that.
|One of my "helpers" assisting in my inventory|
The last thing I checked before making my list is the ad flyer for the grocery store I'll be going to, to make sure there aren't any super deals I couldn't pass up that might influence what we eat for the week. I need to make sure before we go because, if you recall, if it isn't on the grocery list, I'm not going to buy it. Period. Actually, we might cheat on that this week since my husband will be going shopping with me his week and he's horrible about slipping extra goodies in the cart, but I'm going to try to budget in some wiggle room for him to do that without sending us over budget. If I was running really short on food and on a super tight budget this week, I would have started with the ad flyer and built my menu up from that, but since I have a fairly healthy stock of a lot of things and a looser budget this week, it isn't as crucial. Nothing really jumped out at me for meals that will influence my menu this week, but I did mark several items on my grocery list that I wanted for general supplies that were on sale, as well as some good produce deals that I want to grab for snacks for the kids.
Lastly, I went through my menu for the next couple weeks and figured out what I have on hand to make it and what I need. The tacos, I don't need anything because I was planning on having that this past week. The roast chicken and potatoes au gratin, I don't need anything because that is all super basic ingredients that I always have on hand (I stocked up on chickens humanely and healthily raised by Amish people in the fall, before the season for them ended). I continued down my list I made and discovered the only thing I need to buy for this cycle of dinners is some egg roll wrappers, which usually run about $1.50 a package. This frees up almost my entire budget to stock up on supplies that are on sale, items for breakfast (lunches generally consist of dinner leftovers), and any goodies my husband wants to slip in! After marking those items (except my husband's "surprises") on my list, it looks like the "real" groceries will likely be somewhere between $20-$30 for two weeks, depending on how many of the desirable sale items are in stock! Since I think I remember reading somewhere that the average food expenditure for a family of 4, a smaller family size than ours, is upwards of $155 per week in the United States, I'd say a little planning can save a lot of money!